Sounds Local: Roger Salloom to perform holiday show in Greenfield

  • Roger Salloom, who plays a cross between blues, roots, Americana, country and soul, will play a holiday concert at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center on Saturday. Contributed photo


For the Recorder
Published: 11/21/2018 1:42:38 PM

Roger Salloom, a regular performer at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield since the venue opened its doors, is back, this time for a special holiday show.

Salloom, a Northampton resident and longtime presence on the Pioneer Valley music scene, is performing Saturday at 7 p.m. This year, his special guests will be Lydia and Phil, a duo from the Worcester (Salloom’s hometown) area.

“They are the most elegant folk writers currently performing in the Northeast, maybe the whole country,” Salloom said of the pair. “They will open with a couple of tunes, then three of my regular players will join them for two jazz versions of The Beatles’ songs.”

And being that this is a holiday show, Salloom, who was the subject of the documentary film “So Glad I Made It,” in 2006 and has been called “America’s best unknown songwriter,” will debut his new Christmas song called “Talking Christmas Blues.” He takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a family who isn’t quite like the families we see in those Hallmark Christmas movies. Salloom recounts a long list of his relative woes, but ends the song on a feel-good note reminding us “to accept things as they are/Life goes by fast.”

Salloom also has a new album out called “Hearty” that is a mix of originals alongside covers like “Shake, Rattle & Roll.” From the raw acoustic folk song “Not Here nor Anywhere,” that opens the disc, to the rocking “I Need Someone in my Life” that includes an amazing guitar solo by Joe Boyle, the ten tracks on “Hearty,” shift genres and moods with ease.

While the honest, heartfelt lyrics that have always dominated his work are heard on his new album, Salloom doesn’t shy away from the political. “Hearty” includes the previously released tunes “Get Up & Vote” and “Don’t Let My Country Wash Away,” and he ends the disc with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” a song that is as relevant today as when Guthrie wrote it in 1948.

Saxophone player Charles Neville, who passed away in April, played on a few of the album’s tracks including “Don’t Let My Country Wash Away.” Neville worked with Salloom for more than 10 years and the two became close friends, sharing similar political views and an interest in martial arts. They played many shows together including annual shows at Hawks & Reed.

I remember speaking to both of them before a 2016 show at the venue, and they both shared their mutual respect for each other. Salloom admitted that when he plays this show, he will be thinking of and missing his old friend.

“It is very difficult. I am an emotional person, but also a realist,” Salloom said. “I accept all realistic things which are also in tandem with my idealism. I tear up now thinking about him. He was such a gem. A gifted gentleman.”

Neville’s contributions to “Hearty,” which also features bassist Stu Clark from Credence Clearwater Revival, may be his last recorded work.

Expect Salloom to play selections from the new album as well as holiday tunes, some covers and old favorites. Being that he is a great storyteller, he’ll surely have plenty of stories to share between songs during this show that promises to be the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.

Advance tickets are $15 and $20 day of show. Tickets can be purchased at Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Green River Festival presale party set for Saturday

Who wouldn’t want to find Green River Festival tickets under their Christmas tree? If you have music lovers on your holiday shopping list, you’ll want to head to The Parlor Room, 32 Masonic St. in Northampton, on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., where you can purchase three-day weekend passes for the Green River Festival at the discounted rate of $99.99.

The festival will be held July 12 to 14, 2019 on the grounds of Greenfield Community College. The lineup is typically announced in early spring.

Because the pre-sale is a special occasion, organizers are turning it into a party. There will be free refreshments and music throughout the day. Entertainment begins at 1 p.m. with a set by Mamma’s Marmalade, followed by Frank Manzi at 2:30 p.m and then the Gaslight Tinkers at 3:45 p.m.

In addition, you can purchase Green River Festival merchandise at a reduced price and enter to win tickets to see NRBQ at the Academy of Music that night at 7:30 p.m.

That’s right, the legendary rockers NRBQ will be rockin’ the Northampton stage with the help of opening act Frank Manzi and LuxDeluxe. The “Q,” as the band is known to its legion of fans, has always had a strong following in western Massachusetts. In 2011, keyboardist Terry Adams launched a new edition of the band that carries on the spirit of the original group. When it comes to good old rock ’n’ roll, you won’t find a better band.

To purchase tickets to the Academy of Music show, visit or enter to win tickets at the Green River Festival pre-sale party. Remember, Green River Festival tickets at the discounted price are available for one day and can only be purchased at The Parlor Room.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at


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